Tests For Prostate Cancer
There is no single test for prostate cancer. All the tests used to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks, which your doctor should discuss with you.
The blood test, known as a prostate-specific antigen test, measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer. Men and anyone with a prostate are not routinely offered PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable.
This is because the PSA blood test is not specific to prostate cancer. PSA can be raised due to a large non-cancerous growth of the prostate , a urinary tract infection or inflammation of the prostate, as well as prostate cancer. Raised PSA levels also cannot tell a doctor whether a man has life-threatening prostate cancer or not. This means a raised PSA can lead to unnecessary tests and treatment.
However, you can ask to be tested for prostate cancer once the benefits and risks have been explained to you.
Prostate Cancer Caregiver Podcast Series
We are proud to announce a new podcast series geared toward helping give support, hope and guidance to prostate cancer caregivers. The goal of this Prostate Cancer Caregiver Podcast Series is to help others connect with a diverse group of people who have felt the impact of prostate cancer in their lives and empower them on their journey.
Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer
If the cancer has reached an advanced stage, it is no longer possible to cure it. However, it may be possible to slow its progression, prolong your life and relieve symptoms.
Treatment options include:
- hormone treatment
If the cancer has spread to your bones, medicines called bisphosphonates may be used. Bisphosphonates help reduce bone pain and bone loss.
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Living With Prostate Cancer
As prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, you can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment.
Nevertheless, it can have an effect on your life. As well as causing physical problems such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can understandably make you feel anxious or depressed.
You may find it beneficial to talk about the condition with your family, friends, a family doctor and other people with prostate cancer.
Financial support is also available if prostate cancer reduces your ability to work.
Read more about living with prostate cancer
Genetic Testing For Prostate Cancer
You may hear a lot about genetics or genomics. Both terms are related to genes and cell DNA, but they are different. These tests are being used to learn more about the DNA of cancer cells, and link DNA mutations with treatments. In the future, genetic testing may be the first step doctors take when diagnosing prostate cancer.
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What Are The Stages Of Prostate Cancer
Your healthcare provider uses the Gleason score and Grade Groups to stage prostate cancer based on its projected aggressiveness. To get this information, the pathologist:
- Assigns a grade to each type of cell in your sample. Cells are graded on a scale of three to five . Samples that test in the one to two range are considered normal tissue.
- Adds together the two most common grades to get your Gleason score .
- Uses the Gleason score to place you into a Grade Group ranging from one to five. A Gleason score of six puts you in Grade Group 1 . A score of nine or higher puts you in Grade Group five . Samples with a higher portion of more aggressive cells receive a higher Grade Group.
Changes You Shouldnt Ignore
Early-stage prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms but as the disease progresses, you may experience certain warning signs. Knowing the signs of prostate cancer will help you keep an eye out for any concerning changes to your health.
Keep in mind, though, these symptoms dont indicate trouble with your prostate, Dr. Weight says. In fact, almost all of them come standard with aging. But if you experience several symptoms or have other concerns, it may be a good idea to visit a urologist.
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What Is The Survival Rate For Prostate Cancer
Most of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer will not die from it. Other medical conditions along with prostate cancer can cause death.
Survival rates for men with prostate cancer have increased over the years due to increased screening and treatment options.
- Ninety-nine percent of men with prostate cancer will survive for a minimum of five years after diagnosis.
What Are The Treatments For Prostate Cancer
If you need treatment, your doctor will decide the type. Decisions about how to treat this cancer are complex, and you may want a second opinion before making a treatment decision. Treatment may include watchful waiting, a single therapy, or some combination of radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, and less commonly chemotherapy. The choice depends on many things. Prostate cancer that hasnt spread usually can be cured with surgery or radiation.
Since prostate cancer can grow slowly and may not be fatal in many men, some patients — after discussing the options with their doctors — opt for “watchful waiting.” This means not treating it. Instead, the doctor regularly checks the prostate cancer for signs that it is becoming more aggressive. Watchful waiting is typically recommended for men who are older or have other life-threatening conditions. In these cases, a less aggressive cancer may be growing so slowly that it’s not likely to be fatal.
Laparoscopic robotic prostatectomy is a surgery using a laparoscope aided by robotic arms. This operation is now the most popular form of radical prostatectomy in the United States.
After surgery, most men have temporary incontinence, but they usually regain complete urinary control over time. If it is severe or lasts a long time, incontinence can be managed with special disposable underwear, exercises, condom catheters, biofeedback, penile clamps, implants around the urethra, or a urethral sling.
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Types Of Imaging Studies
If your healthcare provider suspects your cancer might be spreading, they will likely order more imaging tests. A common imaging workup may include a bone scan and a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. An MRI might be done as well. Some research centers are also using magnetic MRIs or PET scans to further refine the staging of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
How Do I Decide Whether To Be Screened
Talk to your doctor. Many times, prostate cancer doesnt cause problems or shorten a mans life. Some men would rather not know they have cancer. Think about whether you would want to know. If you think you would want to know if you have prostate cancer, ask yourself whether you would want treatment.
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of screening and treatment.
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What About Other Treatments I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
What Should I Do If I Have Prostate Cancer Symptoms
If you are displaying one or more signs of prostate cancer, be sure to promptly consult with a physician. Even benign prostate conditions like prostate enlargement warrant timely medical attention, so dont delay seeking treatment. And, like most other malignancies, prostate cancer is usually more easily treated when it is detected at an early stage.
Medically reviewed by Monica Chatwal, MD.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we provide a full range of diagnostic testing for prostate cancer. If you have received a prostate cancer diagnosis, we understand that every day counts, and we want to support you every step of the way. Our Urologic Oncology Program includes a multispecialty team that focuses exclusively on evaluating and treating prostate cancer.
Contact Moffitt at or complete a new patient registration form online to speak with one of our specialized oncologists about your symptoms. As Floridas top cancer hospital, were committed to providing all new patients rapid access to a cancer expert within a day of their reaching out.
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Who Is More Likely To Develop Prostate Cancer
Anyone who has a prostate can develop prostate cancer. But certain factors can make you more likely to develop it:
- Age. Your chance of developing prostate cancer increases as you get older. Prostate cancer is rare in people under age 50.
- Family health history. Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a parent, sibling, or child who has or has had prostate cancer.
- Race. African Americans are more likely to get prostate cancer. They’re also more likely to:
- Get prostate cancer at a younger age.
- Have more serious prostate cancer.
- Die from prostate cancer.
Lower Your Risk For Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a serious disease, but early detection is key. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when or if you should be screened for prostate cancer sometimes as early as age 40, if youre considered high risk.
Theres no way to eliminate the risk of getting prostate cancer, Dr. Weight says, but if youre at a higher risk for developing the disease, there are steps you can take to lower your risk.
- Get regular prostate screenings.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer usually doesnt cause symptoms in its early stages. In fact, most men dont know they have prostate cancer until it is found during a regular medical exam. When unusual symptoms are noticed, theyre most often problems with urinating. But these same symptoms can also be caused by an enlarged prostate, so its important to talk with your doctor.
Typically, noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer dont occur until the cancer has begun to spread beyond the prostate, or its metastasized to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. At this point, prostate cancer signs and symptoms can include:
- Not being able to urinate at all
- Having a hard time starting or stopping the flow of urine
- Having to urinate often, especially at night
- Having pain or burning during urination
- You have difficulty having an erection
- You have deep and frequent pain in your lower back, belly, hip or pelvis
Anytime you experience unusual symptoms especially any of the symptoms mentioned above make an appointment with your family doctor or urologist. They can talk with you about your symptoms, do a physical exam if necessary and work with you to create a treatment plan, if necessary.
Experiencing symptoms of prostate problems? Dont delay getting the care you need.
What Can Be Done
If your prostate cancer has recurred, your healthcare provider will likely order some imaging tests to better determine where in your body the cancer has returned. Bone scans, CT scans, and MRIs are the most common tests ordered to find where in the body prostate cancer has recurred.
Many treatment options are available for prostate cancer that has returned. The one that you and your healthcare provider choose depends on individual factors such as what treatment you have already received, where in the body your prostate cancer has returned, how your cancer has spread, your general health, and your age.
If your prostate cancer is thought to have recurred in only a small area and has not spread to other areas of the body, then radiation therapy to that area may be an option.
If your prostate cancer has most likely spread to multiple areas of the body, then hormonal therapy would likely be an option. Chemotherapy can also be used when the cancer has spread to multiple sites.
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What Is The Prostate Gland
The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut. It is part of the male reproductive system and wraps around the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. It grows larger as you get older. If your prostate gets too large, it can cause health issues. Having prostate problems does not always mean you have cancer.
Sometimes a doctor may find a problem during a routine checkup or by doing a rectal exam. If you think there is something wrong with your prostate, see your doctor right away.
At What Point Are Prostate Cancer Patients Cured
Nov. 1, 1999 — Patients with prostate cancer whose prostate-specific antigen blood levels return to normal range and stay there for at least 5 years after radiation therapy have a high likelihood of being cured of their cancer, according to this study that appears in the Oct. 15 issue of Cancer, a journal published by the American Cancer Society.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the second most fatal. According to figures from the American Cancer Society, 179,300 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, and 37,000 will die from the disease. Although prostate cancer has few, if any, symptoms in its early stages, it is highly treatable. Therefore, the American Cancer Society recommends annual PSA screening and digital rectal examinations in all men aged 50 and older.
In patients who are diagnosed with prostate cancer and undergo treatment, including surgery or radiation therapy, PSA testing is used to determine the effectiveness of treatment. PSA levels below 4.0 are considered normal.
These authors found that patients have a high likelihood of cure if their PSA levels remain normal for about three and a half years following treatment, and rarely have treatment failure if they do well for four years after radiation therapy. In those patients in whom radiation treatment failed, 95% had increasing PSA levels during the first four years after treatment.
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Testing Options For Prostate Cancer
There is no one age for prostate cancer testing, but the American Cancer Society makes recommendations about prostate cancer screenings. According to the ACS, patients in any of these groups should consider asking their doctor about testing:
- Men age 50 or older who have an average risk of prostate cancer and a life expectancy of at least 10 more years
- Men age 45 or older with a high risk, including African-American men and those with a first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before age 65
- Men age 40 or older who have a higher risk, such as more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age
Expert cancer care
What Will Happen After Treatment
Youll be glad when treatment is over. But its hard not to worry about cancer coming back. When cancer comes back it is called a recurrence. Even when cancer never comes back, people still worry about it. For years after treatment ends, you will see your cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed.
Be sure to go to all follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask about your symptoms, examine you, and might order blood tests and maybe other tests to see if the cancer has come back.
Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to feel better.
You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life, making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.
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What Tests Detect Prostate Cancer Early
Because prostate cancer cant necessarily be detected at home, its a good idea to learn about the tests that provide early detection. Keep in mind that these tests cant decipher whether or not you have prostate cancer and, following the test, your doctor will most likely suggest a prostate biopsy. If youre wondering how to check for prostate cancer at home, your best bet is to leave it to your health care professional.
Does Prostate Cancer Have Any Symptoms
Most men with early prostate cancer dont have any signs or symptoms.
One reason for this is the way the cancer grows. Youll usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the tube you urinate through and presses against it, changing the way you urinate . But because prostate cancer usually starts to grow in a different part of the prostate, early prostate cancer doesnt often press on the urethra and cause symptoms.
If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem. But its still a good idea to get it checked out. Possible changes include:
- difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
- a weak flow when you urinate
- a feeling that your bladder hasnt emptied properly
- dribbling urine after you finish urinating
- needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
- a sudden need to urinate you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.
If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate or spreads to other parts of the body , it can cause other symptoms, including:
- back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
- problems getting or keeping an erection
- unexplained weight loss.
These symptoms can all be caused by other health problems. But its still a good idea to tell your GP about any symptoms so they can find out whats causing them and make sure you get the right treatment, if you need it.
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